Splashtop is a very popular app, and one that traditionally gets mostly praise. Splashtop 2 just launched for Android, and what was sure meant as a joyous event for the Splashtop developer has turned into a nightmare as the Play Store listing is being bombarded with bad reviews. At the time of this writing, the app has an average 2.2 rating with roughly 2/5 of the ratings being one star ratings. Why? Because of “iOS fanboyism.”
At least that’s what some of the commenters are calling it. Not long ago, we reported on Splashtop giving existing iPad users a free lifetime upgrade to the so-called Anywhere Access account type, which provides access over an internet connection rather than just local WiFi connection. Now that Splashtop 2 is out on Android, users were expecting the same deal, but instead of a manual auto-upgrade they’re met with a manual “email us” one year free Anywhere Access offer. People are furious, and rightfully so.
Not only is this offer different from that on iOS, but the entire free Anywhere Access upgrade in itself was a massive damage control effort to begin with. When Splashtop started out, connecting from anywhere was a buggy experience, one that users helped perfect over the last year or so. Then Splashtop decides to start charging for it. Splashtop is also notorious for having raised prices on multiple occasions, as well as releasing specialized versions of the software (like the $50 Windows 8 version) that just adds onto what Splashtop users have to pay.
Splashtop has replied to many of the reviews using the new Play Store reply system, and its side of the story goes something like this: Splashtop 2 on Android is designed to live alongside Splashtop 1, being optimized for 3G use rather than local WiFi use. That requires servers that cost money, and as such, there’s a yearly fee. The iOS version on the other hand is a direct replacement for Splashtop 1, so the company had to take care of the users as they were forced to make the switch.
This makes sense in theory, but not in practice. There are currently 8 versions of Splashtop in the Play Store, with versions optimized for different devices, different PC OSes, different chipsets, and so on. There are different prices, with most prices claiming to be a sale price that’s x% off a retail price that the app has never actually been priced at. It’s no wonder that people get confused about the differences between these apps, especially when you start dragging versions for other OSes into the picture. I don’t know the technical reasons for creating entirely new apps for compatibility reasons (there probably are some), but in a perfect world there should be a single app that had either manual or automatic settings to optimize itself for different uses. Failing that, all the apps should be completely free, and instead require an account with Splashtop which would in turn be paid, thus making sure people wouldn’t have to pay twice just to get a version of the app that works properly on their device. When people have to buy new apps not only between phones and tablets, but also different phones and tablets, different device OSes, different PC OSes, and even home/outside use, it’s no wonder that people are becoming annoyed with this company.
I support developers’ need to make money more than most, but Splashtop has gone way too far. Its system of advertising sale prices to make an app appear cheaper is outright illegal in many countries, and spewing out “optimized” apps that don’t go under the same license is morally despicable. Splashtop has been one of my favorite apps on both iOS and Android for a long time, but I think it’s time to start looking around for a replacement from a developer that is capable of seeing something besides dollar signs everywhere.